British conductor Edward Downes and his wife, Joan, have died at a Swiss suicide clinic, ending their lives “under circumstances of their own choosing,” the couple’s children said today. Downes, 85, was largely blind and Joan, 74, had cancer, the Times of London reports, which their children say prompted their decision. British police are investigating, but assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland.
Edward Downes conducted some 950 performances at London’s Royal Opera House and was music director of the Australian Opera, with which he conducted the first Sydney Opera House performance. Joan was a ballet dancer, choreographer, and TV producer. "They both lived life to the full and considered themselves to be extremely lucky to have lived such rewarding lives, both professionally and personally,“ the couple's children, Caractacus and Boudicca, said in a statement, adding, "Our parents had no religious beliefs and there will be no funeral.“